INTERVIEW BY ME, FROM LOCAL PHOTO-JOURNALIST Christine T. Nguyen


1) Where were you born?
I was born in Bluefield, WV and moved to Charlotte, NC when I was in fourth grade.  

2) Did you always know what you wanted to do in life? 
Like most kids, I waffled about what I wanted to be when I grew up.  At different points in my childhood I wanted to be a teacher, astronaut, author or marine biologist.  I joined the middle school paper in seventh grade and that's when I realized that I wanted to be a journalist.  

3) What was your first experience in the field? Was it paid or unpaid?  
In high school I interned at The Charlotte Observer and wrote for their teen page during the summer.  It was an unpaid internship.  Honestly I didn't enjoy the experience very much.  I spent most of the time in the office doing interviews over the phone for the teen page stories and re-writing press releases for the Travel section.  However the experience taught me that while I'm not a great writer, I still really enjoyed the idea of working for a newspaper.  At that point I decided to explore other areas of journalism and discovered my love of photography.  

4) What obstacles did you face when attempting to find a job immediately after  graduating from college? 
During college I didn't apply for photojournalism internships.  However, without relevant experience I knew that I wouldn't be able to find a job at a newspaper right after graduation.  So instead of looking for a jobs, I pursued internships to strengthen my portfolio.  Photojournalism is a very competitive field.  I applied to (and was rejected by) 20 newspapers before I was selected to intern at The Fayetteville Observer. 

5) Did your family always  support your dreams and aspirations? 

My parents had mixed reactions to my dream of being a photojournalist.  Even though they were helpful my parents weren't convinced that I would be able to find a job as a photojournalist.  They often tried to convince me to change my major from journalism to something more practical, like business.  It wasn't until I photographed the ACC tournament my second year with The Herald-Sun that my dad stopped trying to convince me to change careers.  

6) Do you overall enjoy what you do and your current job?
I love that my job allows me to explore and get to know this community in a way that I don't think I would if I just lived here.  In the same day I have met a farmer, a recovering drug addict and then headed to Duke to shoot a basketball game.  Every day is different.

7) What types of things do you feel set you apart from other journalists and photographers? 
I love meeting people and hearing about their lives.  I think that curiosity and open-ness makes people feel comfortable with me when I'm photographing them and often allows me to take intimate and heart-felt photos.  

8) Do you have any regrets of the choices you made along your journey to where you are now ? 
I often regretted not interning during school.  At the time I didn't think that my photos and portfolio were good enough to land an internship so I didn't try.  I also regret not taking more chances, like accepting a job overseas that was a little less stable.  If I had, I could have opened myself up to different opportunities.  Then again, I love Durham and don't regret that I ended up here.  

This was a very insightful interview that will help me now and in my future endeavors on my journey to being a journalist. 
Christine T. Nguyen

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